Stage Presence

This afternoon you’ll be up on the stage telling us about your work. Work that you’ve been working on for quite some time. Work that may have seemed foreign and even a tad intimidating at the start. Work that probably caused you some stress and anxiety, perhaps boredom at points. But it probably also resulted in some pretty cool a-ha moments, breakthrough moments, moments of feeling really accomplished and excited about what you were learning and distilling from your research.

The point is that you all persevered and carried through and now you are ready to stand on that stage, talk about your experience and share with others the importance of whatever topic, question, issue you focused on this summer and that you think is important. You are in a position to communicate a message, help others understand some of the complexities of your topic; you now have the experience and power to speak as researchers.

So how does that feel?

I encourage you to grab hold of the moment this afternoon. Take your time to really notice your own personal evolution as a scholar. This is significant. Relish in your stage presence and the sound of your own voice. Really listen to others responding to what you have to say. This is an important stepping stone in your journey and is certain to lead to further questions and research challenges up ahead.

You are McNair and what you are doing is important. You are carrying on the McNair mission and you are creating your own. Congratulations to each of you. Keep today’s experience in your mind’s eye as you move forward in your education and careers. Keep with you the power you have to be part of the solution in addressing and dealing with some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Present Moment, Baby

You imagine a spinning top. Stillness is like a perfectly centered top, spinning so fast it appears motionless. It appears this way not because it isn’t moving, but because it’s spinning at full speed. Stillness is not the absence or negation of energy, life, or movement. Stillness is dynamic. It is unconflicted movement, life in harmony with itself, skill in action. It can be experienced whenever there is total, uninhibited, unconflicted participation in the moment you are in – when you are wholeheartedly present with whatever you are doing.

-Erich Schiffmann, Author
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness

My yoga teacher, Kate, read this quote in class the other day and it really spoke to me. I thought I’d share it. I’m guessing when asked to think of a spinning top, you might think of yourself as a spinning top, spinning round and round and here and there, constantly moving from task to task – instead of one “at peace” and appearing to be void of motion. I sure feel like that!

The idea here is to achieve at least some level of peace amidst the chaos of daily life by being grounded into the present moment. We when practice yoga, we are practicing being in the present moment. While that might be nice (and easier?) to achieve at the studio – the trick is translating this skill to our greater lives.

We can choose to be in the present moment during a class. We can choose to be in the present moment when we’re connecting with a friend over lunch. We can choose to be in the present moment even if we are feeling totally distracted and overwhelmed by whatever items might be on our plates. We can choose. And when we do, we become better at it. That’s the beauty.


I’m reading this awesome book that I want to share with anyone who’s interested – it’s about living in the present moment and it’s written by a really funny guy named Dave. He happens to be a yogi and his mission is to restore the value of the present moment. It’s to get people to s l o w  d o w n and actually enjoy moments throughout their day.

Here’s a LINK to a 20-minute video where he talks about his philosophy on being more present to our lives. Take a moment (ha!) and check it – it’s good stuff. Makes you think.

In his twenty minute talk at GRID Stockholm, Dave says, “There’s nothing more healing than having a deeper sense of the moment.”

To that I say, yes!